So how was your Sunday morning? Mine was great, thanks. I ran the 2012 Paris Marathon in 3 hours, 32 minutes and 10 seconds – my second-fastest time of my five marathons to date.
I had been hoping to go sub-3:30 but I’m happy with my time and performance. An 8-minute mile pace was always going to be hard work for me, and I’m glad that I stuck with it until mile 24. After that, I was driving on fumes and feeling a bit light-headed, but I hung in for the finish.
The weather in Paris was perfect for marathon running – well, for me at least; a cool morning with cloud cover and a light breeze. Unfortunately, the atmosphere on the streets of Paris was just as cool, with the usual low and muted turnout.
My race plan was simple – I would sit in behind a 3:30 marker runner for the whole route. Four of them lined up at the start, so I picked the one furthest to the front and made up a group of a dozen runners going at a steady rhythm. All went well until at 8 miles, through the parkland of the Bois de Vincennes, our spiritual leader suddenly shot ahead and turned off the road – to relieve himself. We all laughed and cheered – and then realised we were lost and leaderless; what would we do now? Fortunately, our pace maker rejoined us soon afterwards.
In my last marathon, in Dublin in October, I got to 20 miles before I faded. Today, however, I was still in touch with the 3:30 group going through 20 and on to 23 miles. My carb loading and reduced training mileage had obviously worked well – added to my mental determination to run strong beyond 20 miles. At mile 24, though, I had reached my limit and from there it was just a matter of keeping the legs turning until the finish.
Strangely, I didn’t see the other 3:30 markers pass me so it seems they finished outside that time – wouldn’t you be unhappy if you were counting on them to bring you in under that landmark time?
Anyway, this evening I’m feeling a little stiff but happy. It hasn’t sunk in that I’ve actually done this race to which I devoted months of mental and physical preparation. For the next week my life may feel a little empty but I’ll fill that void with some well-deserved rest and recuperation.
And then I’ll start thinking of the Dublin Marathon on 26 October!